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Scenic Railroad

A scenic trip back to yesteryear


This is the second most fun thing to do in northern New Mexico, second only to the hot-air balloon flight.


The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge railroad constructed in 1880.  Owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, it is now an amazing trip through the mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.  Two depots serve the railroad -- Antonito, CO and Chama, NM.  With the Osier restaurant in-between the two depots (lunch included in fare), one can ride round trip from either Chama or Antonito to the restaurant, or go the full length from either depot to the other and return by deluxe motor coach.  (The return trip was on a new Volvo bus, and was extremely comfortable.  It takes a little over an hour to return, and the bus driver pointed out scenic areas on the trip.  The only negative was we had been in the adult-only Parlor Car, and we now had a screaming baby in the seat to the front of us.)


The scenery is nothing short of beautiful, with our preference being the Antonito to the restaurant segment.  We took the round trip, departing from Antonito, as it is closer to the Enchanted Circle than Chama, NM (trip # 5).


Shortly after leaving Antonito, one can view a trestle used in a movie starring Willie Nelson and Jack Elam.


There are three classes of service -- coach, tourist, and parlor;  we highly recommend the Parlor Car.  You also get a souvenir glass.  The Parlor Car is restricted to age 21 and older, has a hostess that serves complimentary soft drinks, morning snack, and afternoon cake, and is absolutely the most comfortable area on the train.  Seats 1 - 10 have a better view, but seat 1 is often in the way of the rear door.  The other seats are on the "mountain" side of the car and the visibility is not as great.


You can see the different classes in their website.  "Coach" has bench seating similar to a school bus.  "Tourist" has individual chairs, 3-across, facing forward.  The Victorian Parlor Car has much nicer seats, 2-across, and you can turn them any direction you desire.  The Parlor Car is accessible only to Parlor Car ticket holders.  There is a rear deck on the Parlor Car that you may visit;  as the Parlor Car is the last car in the train, the rear deck provides a view of where you've been.  It's where most of the videos below were taken.  The restroom in the Parlor Car was amazing -- for a train.


There's also an "open-air" car where one must stand.  We saw no appeal to this car, and your handicapped webmaster couldn't use it, anyway.


Update:  We first rode the train in June, 2010.  We returned in September, 2010, to see the Aspen turning gold (pictures coming soon).  The September trip was quite a bit different from the June trip.  A trestle had caught fire shortly after our June visit, and the Osier to Chama leg is greatly shortened.  They no longer provided a souvenir glass, providing a plastic button, instead.  Our seats, which had been reserved 7/30/2010, had been changed, but a friendly chat with the station manager -- a really great guy -- rectified that.  This is too nice an attraction to have seating so messed up.  We were a family of four, we reserved seats almost 2 months prior so we could sit together, and they still screwed it up.


As we left Osier, it appeared a few passengers hadn't made it back from the restaurant in time.  Our attendant stated, "Well, it won't be the first time we've left people up here" and laughed.


The Osier to "can't get to Chama" leg was not only shortened, it was pretty much worthless.  The famous mountain track segment was cut-off, and the scenery isn't nearly as pretty as you go from the gorge to a valley as you climb to the peak of the trip.


The service was lousy.  Our afternoon cake was served on a plastic disposable plate, which didn't really bother me (she explained she didn't have time to wash the dishes).  However, I never even got a soft drink.  The attendant constantly whined about how busy she was and how inconvenient it was to have to serve everything so quickly -- no doubt the reason I never got a soft drink.  At the start of the trip, she loudly announced she liked to walk up and down the car (a requirement IF we had been provided decent service), and demanded we keep our chairs tucked against the edge of the train so she would have a clear walkway.  I wasn't sure if we were in the parlor car, or if we had mistakenly joined the Army.  I tipped the Antonito-Osier attendant $20 for the 4 of us.  For the last leg of our journey, I got off the train as fast I could.


If we were to take the train again, we'd do the Antonito-Osier-Antonito run and save time and money.  If you take the Chama-Osier-Chama trip, you're missing out on 90% of the scenery, even when the train can go all the way to Chama.






(Most pictures are sequential through the ride.)


Click on thumbnails to view full-size picture.


Seats 2 - 10

Ceiling of Parlor Car



Morning snack in Parlor Car




Tracks winding to allow train to make it up the steep grade.



High in the mountains, now








Parlor Car interior

View just after the tunnel

Taken from the rear deck of the Parlor Car

Our hostess

Tracks circling up the mountain

Lower -- Antonito train yard


Parlor Car interior

Pictures during the bus ride back to Antonito from Chama




(Files will download and then open in the viewer you have selected in your browser)


Videos taken with cell phone -- please pardon lack of quality..


Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

Video 7

Video 8

Video 9

Video 10

Video 11

Video 12

Video 13

Video 14 (Harrison Ford used this water tower in a movie)



Angel Fire

Angel Fire Excursions

Angel Fire Lift Ride

Driving in New Mexico

Hot-air Balloon

Red River


Scenic Railroad

Vietnam Memorial


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